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Opinion : Should there be rules on who can hold demonstrations in Wycombe?

| April 1, 2016


Last Friday my good self was sitting on a bench in grounds of the Parish Church eating my sandwiches while watching the world pass by.

Sitting there I could hear the birds singing in the nearby trees, the sound of children of all nationalities enjoying themselves and the distant cries of market traders selling their goods.

A friend happened to pass by and joined me on the bench for a while. ‘Have you heard about the demonstration in the town centre on Saturday 9th April next week?‘ he asked. I hadn’t so he told me and directed me to the local Council website for further information.

Arriving home later that evening your humble servant tuned in to the website and as my friend had mentioned there were details of the demonstration and what may happen. Some of the headline sections of the web page were :

  • Is it safe to come to High Wycombe that day?
  • Should businesses stay open?
  • What do we do if there is an incident on the day? (for which the answer was : ‘If it is an emergency dial 999, otherwise dial 101.‘)

By George! What on earth is going to happen if people have to be re-assured and given advice about their safety?

The local businesses are the very heart and lungs of the town, if they have to close think of the dreadful damage to the local economy.

As for being told what to do if there should be an incident, well, if the demonstration is likely to result in anyone needing to dial 999 then why on earth is it being allowed? The march hasn’t even taken place yet after reading the advice on the web page its enough to make people frightened.

It would appear that the powers that be are powerless to stop the march going ahead as the authorities do not have the powers to ban public assemblies.

Over the years there have been several marches and demonstrations in High Wycombe on topics ranging from the loss of hospital services to the demonstration on Saturday 16th July 2011 about the then proposed Booker stadium.

While the local people should have the right to demonstrate about local issues it seems that organisations based outside our town can also decide to hold demonstrations in our town on issues that don’t affect us which are likely to be attended by people from far away who simply drop into our town for the day to protest.

Maybe it’s time there were rules brought in to ensure that demonstrations are focused on local issues that affect the local community and attended only by local people otherwise the people and businesses of Wycombe are at the mercy of anyone who wants to protest at whatever they want?

I am not a regular visitor to Wycombe town centre on Saturdays however next week I may well go to town and do my regular shopping just to support the local shopkeepers. I’m definitely not going to be intimidated in my home town.

What do you think?

*My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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